Have you ever felt overwhelmed while shopping online? Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, the internet offers countless choices. So how do you choose what’s best for you?
I wouldn’t mind getting some guidance in this area from a professional stylist, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Many people struggle with online shopping, especially men. The UK-based startup Thread and US-based LookLab saw this as a business opportunity. These companies offer free style advice to their busy customers.
It was the first time in a while that I’d registered with a male profile, for the sake of research–I wanted to try the new personal stylist service offered by Thread. So far, their services are limited to those who live in the UK, and it’s just for men. Sorry ladies.
I provided measurements, color and style preferences, and budget limits. I didn’t upload a photo, but Thread recommended doing so to do for a more customized visit. Then I was paired with a stylist, Brooke, who quickly emailed me the first five sets of styling ideas.
Well, I liked the sets. Not everything, but I would definitely recommend some of the pieces to the men in my life. The sets include some seasonal pieces that can be mixed and matched with many different items. Brooke asked me for honest feedback about the direction she was going so “we can take it from there.” The service will be sending me five new looks every week. Sounds promising! But how can Thread provide this service for free?
Thread built a scalable personal styling service with a blend of human stylists and intelligent algorithms. The company has two full-time stylists and 40 freelancers who hand-pick the outfits for the company’s database and answer customers’ questions. So Brooke didn’t handpick my outfits–they were developed by the algorithm after searching through Thread’s database.
All items from suggested sets are available for purchase–you can buy the ones you like directly on Thread’s website. This is convenient because you don’t need to waste time shopping around. But there is a downside, too–the selection is limited by the brands that work with Thread. You don’t have to buy anything from Thread; but if you want to, shipping and returns are free, and you only pay if you decide to keep the items. Users can also contact their stylists for specific advice or recommendations.
Well, I’m sold. I would definitely use Thread if they offered their services to women. Unfortunately they are still a little hesitant about that.
So now let’s take a look at the US-based online styling service LookLab.
Need to know how to pair black leather leggings? Or do you need advice about what to wear for a photo shoot? No problem! Stylists from all over the world are ready to help you on LookLab.com. This US-based company connects users to fashion insiders who offer free personalized shopping advice.
Unlike Thread, LookLab provides fashion recommendations from real fashion insiders. If you are a certified stylist, designer, fashion blogger, or someone who is associated with fashion and styling, you can apply to be a fashion insider. You will get more visibility online and build your reputation as a fashion consultant.
LookLab insiders are independent, and choose products based on their personal taste. Just like Thread, you can buy any of the stylists’ suggestions. But LookLab doesn’t sell clothes directly through their website; they provide links to other vendors’ stores (for a fee, I suppose) where you can complete your transaction. That means LookLab can work with almost any vendor, and stylists are not limited in brand selection.
Awesome idea, don’t you think? Most of the LookLab insiders are highly accomplished professionals with quite an impressive background in fashion. For some reason, LookLab is not as popular as it should be in the fashion industry. Folks, we need to hear more about you!
Thread and LookLab are not competitors, rather they complement each other. While you can build your new style and shop for your entire wardrobe on Thread, you can get recommendations about mixing and matching items on LookLab.
These days, availability is not a problem–people have thousands of retail websites to choose from. What they don’t have is the time and skills to choose the right outfit. That’s why internet styling is the next big thing in the fashion industry. What used to be an exclusive service for celebrities is fast becoming a complimentary service for everyone.